Tuesday 14 April 2009

14 April Braunston to Napton

We set off a few minuets after ten to a warm,  sunny morning. The canal traffic was quite heavy especially in the area of Shuckburgh where boats coming towards us seem to be travelling in close convoys of about 6, this lead to some interesting manoeuvering and position holding around the bridges.  Work at bridge 107 looks to have come to a standstill as far as the canal is concerned and the work force moved to bridge 107 but there was no disruption to boat traffic. We were expecting long queues and delays at the Napton flight, but when we arrived there was no one waiting and a boat just about to leave the lock. We had a very good run up the flight meeting 5 boats in total with all the locks for us, even the ones that had leaky gates only needed one paddle opening for us to get in. Getting back into our mooring at the top of the flight was slightly more of a problem as the silt builds up very quickly while we are away, so quite a bit of rope pulling is required to get Harnser alongside. Today we have seen "Moore 2 Life" and "Skyy" on the South Oxford Canal
This evening we walked down to The Folly to eat and had quite a nice meal, pie and chips. I thought the beer was a bit pricey at £5.80 for 2 pints and also the sweets at £5.75 a time

Monday 13 April 2009

13 April Buckby to Braunston

We left Buckby about 9 am when a boat came down the first lock, we were planning to be in Braunston for lunch time to meet my son and his family. Half the towing path between Norton Junction and Welton Wharf is now open again although the final path finish hasn't been completed. We met 3 boats in the tunnel, the first two had tunnel lights that shone a pencil beam straight down the length of the tunnel. luckily for us it was quite misty in there which defused a lot of the beam until we got close to them. There was a steady flow of boats coming up the flight and a hire boat waiting at the top lock to go down, so we joined them and had a good run. We had just entered the top lock when my son rang to find out where we were. We explained our position and they walked up to find us and were able to ride down the last 3 locks.  We then took them for a short cruise to the winding hole on the puddle banks and back to the Mill House for lunch. That didn't quite work out as they had just taken an order for 8 so we would have to wait 3/4 hour, goodness knows what they would do if they get busy as there was hardly anyone in there. With 2 children we decided to leave and go to The Nelson, again the service was quite slow, we heard them tell the people after us there would be 15 minuet delay but our food was a good half hour coming, while we were eating I spotted Derwent6 coming up the flight.  After that we said our goodbyes and walked back along the towing path to Harnser  stopping to chat with several people on the way. Once back at the boat  I still have a few outstanding jobs to do, one I didn't expect was to touch up two chips in the paint on the side and roof, we thought we may have been targeted on the Coventry Canal and got away with it, but it looks as if I was wrong and we did collect a couple of stones. About 6 pm we decided to head out in the countryside for the night and moored again at 7 pm by bridge 99.

You can see our latest position here

Sunday 12 April 2009

12 April Stoke Bruerne to Buckby Top pound

Again we left a little after 10 am in light drizzle and rain. I am intrigued by the small tunnel running off the side of Blisworth Tunnel 850 Mt in from the Stoke Bruerne end on the right hand side. The tunnel is about 4 feet above water level and has water flowing out of it into the canal, this in its self is not unusual, but what is, is that you can see light at the end of this tunnel and water falling into it. You can't see straight out of the end of it so the light must be coming down or sideways. Has anyone ever explored this tunnel and if so can you turn a corner at the end or even look up to the sky. We met 5 boats in the tunnel and a continuous stream all the way to Blisworth. Not long after this we spotted Fa Fair moored against the towing path so we stopped for coffee, actually we had just made a couple of mugs of coffee and got our last two buns so we took them in with us. When we left it had almost stopped raining and things improved from there. We followed a boat from before Weedon all the way to Whilton, some one to share the locks with we thought, but no the turned into the marina. We had to turn the bottom lock and by the time it was empty there was another boat coming up behind us, so we entered the lock and waited for them. This turned out to be a good move as they were experienced boaters which meant Diana could go and set the second lock while the chap off the other boat locked us out of the first, like wise the third and any others that needed turning. We booth moored for the night just bellow Buckby Top Lock just on 6 pm.

You can see our latest position here

Saturday 11 April 2009

11 April Black Horse Bridge to Stoke Bruerne

The moorings last night were very quiet which resulted in a slight case of oversleeping this morning, the end result we didn't get away until 11 am. The weather started quite well but started to deteriorate around lunch time and we finished our travels in light rain and drizzle. Things got a bit busy around Cosgrove with 4 boats waiting above the lock while us and a Wyvern hire boat went up and then there was a steady flow all the way to the Stoke Bruerne flight, The bottom lock was with us and a boat was waiting to go down, from the third up all the top gates were open and by the time we had turned the lock a boat was entering the lock above and one was also entering the bottom of the flight behind us. we went up the third allowing the boat above to come down and then waited for the boat behind. By the time they had joined us there were two boats above the lock waiting to come down and all the rest of the flight was with us. Once clear of the locks we filled with water and then moved up to the first available mooring spot on the bollards and rings just above the disabled moorings. As it was now 4 pm we decided to stop for the night.

You can see our latest position here

Friday 10 April 2009

10 April Linslade to Black Horse Bridge

We ate at the Globe last night, the restaurant was full and we hadn't booked a table so we ate in the bar. This is no hardship in the Globe as they have several areas with tables in quiet alcoves. We ate from the specials menu both having Lamb meatballs which were excellent.
We were a bit later getting away than planed as there was a bit about the steam launch "Gondola " on Lake Conniston and her fist lady captain. We pushed off just before 11 am by which time most of the other boats had already left. All the locks went quite well meeting boats in all the right places. We stopped at Willowbridge marina for diesel at 59p/lt topping the tank right up. Not long after leaving it started to rain and this continued right until we moored at about 5 pm at the end of the visitor moorings at Black Horse Bridge.

You can see our latest position here

Thursday 9 April 2009

9 April Marsworth to Linslade

Last night we met friends in The Complete Angler for a meal and a few drinks, we all had fish dishes and Diana's comment was that these were the best fresh vegetables we had had all trip.

We set off this morning at twenty to ten and only met one boat all the way to Leighton Buzzard. For the first part of the trip we found all the top gates open, ready for us, even Marsworth Bottom that has a big notice asking you to close the gates and drain the lock after use. The weather was a bit miserable with a cool wind and fine drizzle at times. We stopped at Leighton Buzzard to get a few bits and pieces from Tesco and Aldi before pushing on north. The sight that greeted us at Wyvern Boats was a bit different to when we passed through last Monday with most of the boats now our. We soon learnt that most of them were on there way back for tomorrow morning, we met the first at Leighton Lock and although Diana gave them a hand they chose not to speak to her. We went down through the lock and moored for the night just before The Globe opposite the sewage works at 4 pm. Since we have been here they have been coming past steadily with some mooring between us and the lock ready to do the last few hundred yards in the morning. It looks like the short breaks are very popular.

You can see our latest position here

Wednesday 8 April 2009

8 April Wendover Arm to Marsworth

Yesterday evening I saw my first Swallow of the season flying over the storage area of the Wendover Trust, I hope he found somewhere safe to bed down for the night as it blow well overnight. The boat next to us had a wind generator on the roof  and I bet the noise inside the boat was something else. This morning it was still breezy and sunny, the overnight rain having cleared away. We took the dog for a walk along the unrestored section of the arm to where its in water again. We finally pushed off at 1130 am. winded in the corner and headed back to the main line where we turned right to Cowroast the other end of the Tring summit, where we winded to start our journey home. On the way back along the summit a Kingfisher flashed by, not even time to think about lifting the camera let alone get a photo. Back at the top of the Marsworth flight we found all the locks against us, we didn't meet anything in the flight and we had to work all the locks alone. For a change Diana drove the boat and I did all the locks. It wasn't till the very bottom lock where a boat was coming out and we caught up with nb Syncopation going down. We moored for the night just below the bottom lock right beside the White Lion pub and 4 pm.

I have just discovered that over the passed week we have shared several locks with a fellow blogger "morethanadequate" and I didn't know it. My RSS feeds have not been updating and today I found the morethanadequate are none other than nb Syncopation.

You can see our latest position here

Tuesday 7 April 2009

7 April Seabrook lock to The Wendover Arm

Well the Peacock performed as expected giving 2 calls at approximately 10 minute intervals starting before it was light. He was accompanied with the sound of the trains. This must be one of the busiest sections of rail outside any large city. There seams to be a  train constantly in hearing distance. We decided last night that one of the first jobs today would be to get the toilet tank pumped out as it was at a critical level. It was only a couple of locks and a swing bridge to Glebe Cruisers at Pitstone where there is a DIY token operated pump out machine, Diana purchased a token for £10 and I read the instructions carefully before inserting the token. When I did the lights changed as described, I pressed the green button, the pump started but the level of vacuum was zero. I tried sucking up canal water to prime the pump with no success. The chap from the yard came over and fed the water hose straight into the pump suction and then quickly reconnected the suction pipe, we were away and the tank started to empty. He left me a spare token in case the time left was to short to finish the job which was just as well as it cu out half way through. The second token had the tank emptied when there was a shout to shut it down, apparently a hose on the discharge of the pump had burst round the back of the boatyard. We thanked them kindly and left them to it. Just as we entered Marsworth bottom lock another boat came into view so we waited and it turned out to be a single handed boater who was more than happy to do his share of the work. We stayed together all the way up the Marsworth flight to Bullborne where he carried straight on and we turned right down the Wendover Arm. At Bullborne dry dock they were steaming some timbers to repair a boat. They had a wooden steam chest with the planks in it, but instead of the normal boiler feeding it with steam they had a steam cleaner running with the lance pocked inside the steam box and a tiewrap on the trigger.
We carried on down the Wendover arm, once past the flour mill we found the canal very shallow, much worse than last time we came this way but things improved just before the pump house and the newly restored section was no problem. We moored for the night at the very end of the arm with our bow touching the end dam.

You can see our latest position here

Monday 6 April 2009

6 April Stoke Hammond to Seabrook Lock

We left as usual at 10 am as we arrived at Soulbury Three Locks a boat was just going up in the first lock, but they waited for us in the first pound, It was the same boat that we had shared Fenny Stratford lock with yesterday. At the top of the three we left them as they were again saying goodbye to friends. We did see them once or twice behind us between here and Leighton Lock, but when we arrived at the lock they were nowhere to be seen so we locked up alone. Just as we left the lock they arrived below it but by then there was a wide beamed vessel waiting to go down so the didn't have all the work to do alone.
We stopped to do some shopping at Tesco and Home Base in Leighton Buzzard and probably spent two hours moored there having a bit of dinner before we set off. We carried on alone to just above Slapton Lock where we moored as Diana fancied going to the Carpenters Arms for dinner, as it was Monday I suggested that she rings them to see if they were doing food, it turned out that they don't do food on Monday or Tuesday nights. While we were moored there a community boat came passed and winded at the winding hole by the bridge, we had set off again long before they were round and we expected them to moor for the night, however as we entered Horton Lock I saw they were behind us so I tucked round behind the bottom gate and let them in beside us. They had just closed the gate and we started to fill the lock when the lady from the boat we had shared with this morning came running up, she didn't know we were in the lock and thought the other boat was alone. We continued up together as far a Seabrook Lock 34 where at it was 6 o'clock we decided to moor for the night and let the community boat full of Boy Scouts continue on alone. Once they had gone we turned the lock for the boat that was following us, but they decided to moor for the night just above the lock. The evening has been quite noisy as there is a Peacock roosting in the tree beside the boat, I hope he doesn't get up to early in the morning.

You can see our latest position here

Sunday 5 April 2009

5 April Cosgrove to Stoke Hammond

Yesterday Diana decided that now the weather was warmer she would turn the stove out, the night was clear and the morning cool. The stove went on again about 4 pm to cook dinner. We saw lots of Wyvern Shipping boats about today, all the ones on a long weekend break have to be back at base by 9 am tomorrow. Passing through Milton Keynes we spotted "Fe Fair" moored against the towing path so we pulled over and spent an hour with them before heading off south. As we approached Fenny Stratford Lock a boat was about to enter so we shared the lock with them. They already had the swing bridge open and were able to remove their key leaving the bridge open for the following boat. I don't know if this bridge should be left open or closed, prior to the lock being fitted it was always left open, so maybe it should be locked open when not in use. We left the lock first as the other boat was dropping friends off who had been visiting for the day. Next stop was Stoke Hammond Lock, this was set against us with the top gates open, we expected the other boat to catch up by the time the lock was ready, but there was no sigh of them so we started going up alone, we had about a foot of water in the lock when a Wyvern Hire boat appeared below the lock, so we emptied the lock and opened one of the bottom gates to let them in beside us. We moored for the night just above the Lock moorings at about 5-30 pm.

You can see our latest position here

Saturday 4 April 2009

4 April Stoke Bruerne to Cosgrove

I spent the morning in the education centre at the Waterways Museum with about 11 other people all with our lap tops to receive tuition about the new IWA web site, unfortunately the museum's wi-fi wasn't working so none of us could get on line. Luckily Dave who was holding the tutorial had his 3 dongle with him so he connected using that and we all watched his screen which didn't give us any hands on usage. The weather all day was beautiful and we finally left our mooring at 2.15 pm. We had all the Stoke Bruerne locks in our favour but we were working down alone. We met a couple of boats in the flight which saved us shutting all the gates. We moored for the night at Cosgrove on the visitor moorings which have lots of handy mooring rings about 5.30 this evening.

You can see our latest position here

Friday 3 April 2009

3 April Stowe Hill to Stoke Bruerne

The weather today was very similar to yesterday, starting off cold and damp with the sun finally getting through a little after one to give a very pleasant afternoon.

We set off at 10 am but didn't want to get to Stoke Bruerne before 2 pm as it takes 4 hrs to charge the batteries and if we arrived any sooner then we would just have to sit with the engine running. We met a few boats on the way but no one caught us up which considering how slowly we were going was a bit surprising. A boat pulled out ahead of us a Blisworth, they were travelling quite slowly as well so I slowed down a bit more. I didn't see them enter the tunnel but as soon as we entered I could hear them, but still couldn't see them, so I dropped right back to tickover. There was a fair amount of water coming down as usual and in the end I resorted to using the brolly. About a quarter of a mile before the south end there is a tunnel going off to the left at about 3 foot from the water level. Looking down this tunnel you can see light at the end and also water coming down. The floor of this small tunnel, it's only about 30" wide is covered with a bright brown/orange deposit from the water. We continued on and met a bout about 300 yards from the end, behind them was the trip boat from the museum,  they had their spotlights on which completely blinded my, luckily they only go about a 100 yards into the tunnel and then reverse out, so we didn't have to endure it for long. We moored just on 2 pm about 250 yard above the locks. We will stay here until tomorrow afternoon as in the morning I will be attending a Web accessing course at the canal museum.


You can see our latest position here

Thursday 2 April 2009

2 April 09 Leicester Branch to Stowe Hill

Well there was a change in the weather today and it was quite cool when we went out. The first job was to reverse back along the arm, passed all the moored boats, through the bridge and turn at the junction back on the Grand Union main line and head towards London. As we turned I noticed a boat coming from Braunston and luck was with us as he was going our way, some one to help in these large locks is very handy. The third pound from the bottom was about 2 foot down on level and just as we locked down into it a BW chap arrived to top it up. We met the first boat coming up in this lock, all the rest had been empty when we arrived but this chap had just started filling it. By the time we were down there was another boat below waiting to come up, I am amazed the first chap didn't realise there was a boat following in the pound behind and waited for him. By now I had put a jacket on top of my fleece is was so cool. The boat we were sharing with, Oakapple said that the other side of Braunston tunnel had been fine. As we only want to get to Stoke Bruerne tomorrow we moored up just before 2 pm just south of Stowe Hill Wharf opposite the camping/caravan site a short way before bridge 28. Once moored the sun came out and things warmed up pleasantly. We spent the afternoon fitting new door liners to the left hand side doors. I originally lined these with plywood, but they always get wet at the bottom and the wood had seen much better days. Now I have glued two strips of 9 mm wood down inside the doors and then glued a sheet of 9 mm white plastic onto them to make the face, so the wet shouldn't cause any more problems in the future. We will have to wait and see how they last.


You can see our latest position here

Wednesday 1 April 2009

1 April 09 Napton to Norton Junction

We set off at 10 am in warm sunshine, said good by to Mike on Draco and made our way down the flight, The first boat we met was using the new BW bollards and smashed into the top gates in both locks despite shouting at his wife/lady to shut the paddle down. He was also back setting as he went for a boat that was not in site, so we arrived at the next lock and instead of being full and ready for us it was empty with the bottom paddle up and the boat coming up was still working the next lock down, so that was another lock full of water going to waste. Even more surprising was that the first boat was complaining about low pounds. The second boater we met was convinced he had been talking to me in The Folly the evening before, saying that I left early as I had to walk up to the Engine Arm to cook myself a meal. We left with him thinking I must have a brother. Just below the bottom lock a chap was repairing a BW flat full of crushed white stuff that they now spread on the towing path. Just round the bend we passed Derwent6 but no sign of life. I must say their brass put us to shame, about half a mile further I met the tug pushing an empty flat right on the bend, by the time I saw the roof of the tug, the bow of the flat was there. Still we got buy with no loss of paint only a slight loss of face as I had to back up to get round the bend after he had gone. I always go very slowly as I approach Nimrod Bridge as with its double bend its impossible to see anyone coming the other way. Today there was a work flat moored on the off side under the bridge, If I had have met a boat he would have had nowhere to go.  At the next bridge there is a big notice saying that there is ongoing work and boats may have to wait. The chap said we would need to wait 20 minuets. I don't know about others but I am finding time and time again there is no mention of expected delays on the stoppage page of Waterscape. If the towing path is obstructed in a town then that's there, but no mention of holdups for boats on the South Oxford where they are removing the A34 flyover or the works on bridge 107 Grand Union . We stopped briefly for water in Braunston and then threaded our way through all the moored boats to the bottom of the locks. There were 2 boats coming down and I was so close to the lock due to the moored boats that they had to single out to get round me. We went up alone and soon met another boat coming down, only they had all four paddles up. The Nelson is due to open Friday and starts doing food on Saturday, we will give it a try on our way back. We didn't meet anything in the tunnel and could easily see right through to the far end.  We intended to moor at Norton Junction but it was full up so we have gone up the Leicester Arm. A short way up here there are 3 working flats moored breasted up on the offside, they were there when we came up just after Christmas, I assumed they belong to BW but they now have BW patrol notices on them, is this like traffic wardens nicking police cars for parking? We had to go almost to Welton Marina before we could find a spot to moor. We tied up at about 5 15 pm.


You can see our latest position here